EXERCISE AND YOUR HEALTH
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© April 2012, The Center For development
Exercise is a major topic today because many doctors believe we should all be exercising a lot more. There is some truth to this, but not too much in my view. I know this goes against the mainstream and the holistic medical thinking today, so this article explains why the bodies today are too exhausted to benefit much from vigorous exercise.
Clearly, exercise has many benefits such as improving oxygenation and circulation, massaging the body organs, strengthening the muscles, increasing flexibility and stamina, and others. The problem is that it also depletes nutrients and causes some oxidant damage in all cases.
This article focuses on the way exercise is used in nutritional balancing science. It is different from the way it is suggested by some other health authorities. The principles are
1) some gentle to moderate exercise is excellent for everyone, and 2) do not overdo! Let us discuss these in detail. After that is a long section of myths about exercise, to elaborate on the subject further.
1. Everyone needs some exercise. This should be obvious, but it is not obvious to some people who lead busy lives, or who are very tired, for example, or just not in good physical condition. Exercise is helpful for all parts of the body. One of the “diseases of civilization” is that we live in our automobiles or other mechanical means of transportation, we don’t climb stairs because we live on the ground floor, or we use elevators in the big cities.
The result is that the muscles become flabby and weak, the bones also weaken, the ligaments stretch and may weaken and so on. Also, the very structure of the body becomes distorted from just sitting in front of computers, for example, and not stretching and toning the system.
A simple answer. The simplest answer is to walk every day for at least 15 minutes at a stretch. This is not hard to do. You can do the mall if you don’t feel comfortable walking on the street. In fact, a mall is better in several ways. There are no cars to hit you, there is less foul air due to car exhaust, and for women, in particular, it is safer in most cases. Be careful in malls, however, if you are alone and there are not many people around. Malls can still be unsafe in this regard. Also, always wear shoes that you can run away in, if needed. This is sad to have to discuss, but important nevertheless.
Some people have learned to park their car at the far end of the parking lot when they shop or at work, so they get their walking in to and from their car. This is excellent, as long as it is safe. Parking lots are not the safest places because cars suddenly appear, seemingly out of nowhere, and lots are not necessarily safe for women. However, it is one answer to the question of how shall I get my exercise each day.
Others walk on treadmills, either at home or at the gym or health club. This is fine, providing that the room is well-ventilated and of course, that it is safe. A treadmill is not quite as good in some ways because it is too easy. Walking, even in a mall or on the sidewalk, demands a little more attention to where you are going, and this is often good. Also, the machine sets your pace, which is not as good as being able to adjust your pace as you go, breathing deeply, moving energy downward as you walk, and perhaps even meditating as you walk. You can do this with a treadmill, but not easily.
Walking is probably the best overall, simple, inexpensive and safe solution to the exercise problem for most people. No special equipment or space is needed, you can do it alone or with others, and it gently moves the spine without stressing the joints, tendons or ligaments excessively. More on how to walk so as to use walking as a very useful method of healing and development is found in the article entitled Grounding And Centering on this website.
Other forms of gentle exercise. Other good forms of exercise are gentle weight lifting, bicycling if done safely, which is difficult, swimming in safe, non-polluted, non-chlorinated water, and perhaps some light sports such as gentle tennis or raquetball as long as it is gentle and you do not become exhausted.
2. Vigorous exercise is not helpful. In essence, we find that most people are simply not well enough to be doing heavy exercise, such as intense running, intense weight lifting, and other vigorous sports. This may sound heretical, but it is our observation. Even Kenneth Cooper, the founder of aerobics, near the end of his career sounded the alarm about too much and too vigorous exercise routines.
Too often, vigorous exercise routines wear out the body, do subtle damage to tendons and ligaments, damage the thyroid and the adrenals, and sometimes women’s ovaries, and waste your energy, no matter how fun or exciting they seem.
In fact, vigorous exercise causes oxidant damage to the body, and nutrient depletion, and it kills! This is critical to know. Please listen, those of you that love long distance running, for example, as in running and training for marathons. Please listen. For a short article on running, read Marathon Running Can Kill on this site.
More on the technical aspects of oxidant damage due to vigorous exercise is found in the article on this site entitled Glutathione, A Master Anti-oxidant.
SPIRITUAL ASPECTS OF EXERCISE
I speak with many people who say they feel their best when they are running hard, for example, breathing hard, or otherwise exercising very hard during skiing, skating, or other sports. However, this is mainly a physical ‘high’ caused by adrenal hormone secretion and perhaps thyroid hormone secretion. It is not the same as becoming more spiritual. In fact, it is the opposite, as it is damaging to the body, as is all excessive hormone secretion. It is for this reason that I profoundly disagree with many doctors and other authorities who proclaim the spiritual benefits of vigorous exercise, or any exercise at all.
What is spiritual development? Then, you may say, what is the purpose of life, if it is not to have experiences that make one feel really good? This is a good question that is addressed in several articles on this website. Here I will give just a brief answer.
The purpose and goal of spiritual development, as the words are used at this website, is to develop the brain and the special abilities with which each of is born. That is the essence of spiritual development, not the development of a muscular figure, or great flexibility or great physical endurance. These are but shadows of the much greater abilities that human beings can develop by using their minds, their intuition, and other faculties that can be developed in all of us.
Some people want and believe one can have it both ways. That is, one can be an athlete and develop spiritually as well. Indeed, there are a number of books promoting this approach. However, for the type of development we suggest, physical activity, beyond that needed for your daily life, will inevitably get in the way, as one needs loads of extra rest and sleep, for example. Also, the lifestyle of the athlete usually is not healthful, including the diet of carbohydrates and fats, at times, and more. Thus, I do not believe one can really combine the two.
This does not mean one should be flabby and weak. Quite the contrary. A slender body is a product of health, and not primarily exercise. To exercise more just to lose weight, for example, may work for a few people, but is not optimal for many others. The way to lose and keep one’s weight is to eat correctly, think correctly, detoxify the body. I beg to differ from many health authorities of all types who tell those who are overweight to exercise more for health. I think that is a lie most of the time and it just makes them more ill, even if they lose a few pounds doing it.
I do not wish to imply that exercise is bad or harmful. It is generally excellent for physical development. However, it is not helpful for spiritual development, no matter what anyone thinks. We do not find spiritual teachers and monks running marathons, for example, as they know better. Gentle exercise is only important for the growth and maintenance of the physical body.
EXERCISE AND WEIGHT LOSS
Many weight loss programs include a lot of exercise as part of the program. While mild walking or other mild exercise is fine, I find that most overweight and obese people are not in adequate physical condition to do heavy exercise.
Also, using nutritional balancing science for weight loss, heavy or vigorous exercise is never needed. Several clients have lost over 100 pounds easily, within a number of months, without the need for vigorous exercise. I do not recommend vigorous exercise if one want to lose weight and improve one’s health. For much more on this topic, read Weight Loss on this website.
This is a common condition today. Essentially exercise stimulates the adrenal glands, the thyroid gland and perhaps other glands, and gives many people a temporary high that they believe is healthful, when it is not.
As a result, one is drawn back to the health club, gym or other activity to keep getting another high. This can easily become an addiction, and is not healthful in the slightest. However, it is a socially acceptable type of addiction and is admittedly better than using dangerous drugs or alcohol. Therefore, many people who are tired, depressed, anxious and whose bodies are out of balance use exercise for this purpose.
With a nutritional balancing program, the body chemistry can often easily be balanced so that one can enjoy exercise without it becoming addictive and so that one will feel well whether or not one exercises. This should be the goal of a healthful exercise program.
MYTHS ABOUT EXERCISE
Exercise is often promoted as a cure-all answer for many problems. The following section takes a hard look at some of the myths about exercise, and presents the views of physicians who have watched the body chemistry of thousands of individuals for years.
MYTH #1. Strong muscles and a beautiful body indicate you are in good health.
These may make you feel like you have health, and everyone may tell you how wonderful you look. However, I work with people who look great, but have cancer or some other disease. It is certainly wise to care for your body, but health goes far beyond muscles and body shape.
Judging yourself or another based upon how much or how many exercises one does is insane. Human beings need to have the strength to achieve a healthful lifestyle and that is about all. Physical strength is only one parameter of health and ot an important one.
MYTH #2. A healthy heart and healthy arteries indicate you are healthy.
This is a recent fetish. Experience with many people shows that if your body chemistry is truly in balance, your arteries and heart will be excellent. This is not to say that exercise is not needed. Some gentle walking is excellent for circulation and the cardiovascular system. However, it is easy to overdo in trying to tone up your muscles and one system that can be negatively affected is the cardiovascular system.
Gentle exercise is beneficial for everyone, but a narrow-minded focus on cardiovascular fitness is insane. Recently a 25-year old woman consulted me complaining of fatigue and depression. She was doing aerobic exercise 3-5 evenings a week. Her heart and arteries were probably fine, but her glandular system was so exhausted she could hardly get out of bed in the morning. Her hair analysis indicated a depleted, exhausted body. Exercise was just aggravating the problem. This case is typical of the 'exhausted exerciser'.
MYTH #3. Exercise rebuilds your body.
Exercise assists circulation of the blood and oxygenation of tissues, and can help rebuilding in this sense. Mild exercise is excellent for these purposes. Excessive exercise, however, stresses the heart, arteries, joints, and glands. They are forced to respond to stress, and to use up energy in that response. Muscles enlarge as a response or accommodation to stress. Large muscles are not a sign of health in themselves.
Healing and rebuilding is largely a biochemical phenomenon, requiring proper nutrients, and requiring plenty of rest so that energy can be directed to the area in need of healing.
To exercise a little when you feel well is great. To exercise "in order to feel well" is skating on thin ice. Today, most people are subtly malnourished due to consumption of food that is low in trace elements, and for other reasons. No amount of exercise will make up for these deficiencies. It is a mistake to think you can compensate for a biochemical problem by exercising.
The result may be that you will feel well for a while. Later, you will find yourself addicted to exercise. If you skip it for two days, you will feel depressed, constipated, irritable or exhausted. This occurs because exercise stimulates the adrenal glands and can keep exhausted glands functioning - like whipping a tired horse. If you stop whipping, naturally the horse will not feel like getting up or performing well.
MYTH #4. Exercise cannot be harmful.
Most marathon runners are good for several years. Then some of them must retire because they are 'burned out'. Many professional athletes die young. Indeed, they have one of the shortest life spans of any group of adults.
Here is something interesting. The slow heartbeat of professional runners is due in part to their healthy heart, but also due to a mechanism to slow their metabolism, because they put such strain on their heart. Cysteine is released from muscle tissue and slows the thyroid. The idea that since a little is good, more must be better, can be lethal when applied to exercise.
Here are some guidelines for exercise:
1. Don't use your pulse as your only guide. Many people are not that healthy, in spite of a normal pulse rate.
2. Follow common sense. Don't push past exhaustion. Listen to yourself before you listen to any coaches, experts or friends. Go at your own pace. Do as much exercise as you need to keep yourself fit for your lifestyle and that is all. Opt for less exercise of a vigorous nature if in doubt.
3. Don't use exercise as a crutch or drug. If you are running to get away from your problems, you are misusing exercise. If you are addicted to exercise, work toward getting unhooked, as you would with any other addiction. Addiction is not health, even if it makes you look and feel fantastic while you do it.
4. If you skip exercise for a few days, you should still feel very well. If you skip your exercise and begin to feel depressed, exhausted, constipated or irritable you are probably using exercise as a whip. Cut down slowly and look into other reasons why you are feeling this way.
5. A tissue mineral analysis performed by a lab that does not wash the hair, and interpreted by someone who understands it well, can often tell you if you are overdoing exercise. There is a list on this website of practitioners whom I personally train and whom I trust. The others, I do not trust with hair analysis. Click here to reach that page.
The properly performed and interpreted hair mineral test will often indicate adrenal exhaustion. Only very gentle exercise is acceptable and helpful for these people. Vigorous exercise of any kind in this condition only slows regeneration and is quite dangerous for your health and healing.
6. Involve your whole body. Exercise outside in the fresh air whenever possible. Flexibility is as important as strength and endurance. Stretching and deep breathing are vital for health.
Walking, swimming, bicycling and gardening are excellent. Long-lived people in the world often work outside, but usually not strenuously. Meditative exercises such as yoga or tai chi are also okay but be careful because many are injured in these classes. The teacher must walk around the entire class at all times to make sure the students are doing the poses correctly at all times. This is very important to avoid injuries. This is why walking is often better, as it is safer.